Canada's prime minister paid tribute Monday to Canadian cell biologist Ralph Steinman, who died days before being awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his pioneering work on the immune system.
"On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to pay tribute to the remarkable accomplishments of Ralph M. Steinman and his colleagues Jules A. Hoffman and Bruce A. Beutler, who today were awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement.
"Their research has revolutionized our understanding of the immune system and opened up new avenues for the development of prevention and therapy against infections, cancer and inflammatory diseases.
"Thanks to their dedication, the boundaries of science and medicine have been expanded."
Steinman, 68, died of pancreatic cancer on September 30, according to Rockefeller University in New York where he worked.
Nobel regulations do not allow the award to be given posthumously, but the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute that awards the prize held a meeting late Monday to discuss how to handle the situation, deciding ultimately that Steinman would remain a Nobel laureate.
Steinman shared the award with Bruce Beutler of the United States and Luxembourg-born Jules Hoffmann, a naturalized French citizen.
"The Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine is a fitting final tribute to his life's work," Harper said. "Dr Steinman shall be honored for all time with this achievement. Canadians will mourn his loss."
Explore further: Can science eliminate extreme poverty?